Technology company Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) wants developers at this year's Tech Ed conference to quickly create apps for the coming launch of the Phone 7.

This week, more than 2700 developers converged on the Gold Coast to get updated on the company's wide range of software platforms. However, the spotlight is on the Phone 7, which is due out later this year.

Microsoft is aiming to change its fortune with smartphones with the new operating system. Currently, smartphones are experiencing increased popularity because of the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone, the Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) BlackBerry and the wide range of handsets based on Google's Android operating system. Microsoft has continually lost ground against competitors in the smartphone market.

Gartner, a research firm, has released figures showing that Microsoft's share of the global smartphone operating system market has decreased from 9.3 percent in the second quarter of last year, to just 5 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

The company is banking on the help of developers to rapidly boost the number of apps on hand for the launch of Phone 7. Microsoft hopes to compete with the Apple iPhone and the Google Android platform, which already have libraries with hundreds of thousands of programs on tap.

Peter Torr of Microsoft says that there have been about 300,000 downloads of the Phone 7 developer tools around the world.

"It's fertile ground; if you are on the ground floor, it could be your ticket to riches," Torr said.

The new operating system is a complete break from the current version of Windows Mobile 6.5, which has proven to be unpopular. Apps written for the older system would not work on the Phone 7 platform, requiring users who plan to migrate from Mobile 6.5 to Phone 7 to obtain a whole new app collections.

"What we had with 6.5 and earlier versions was Winforms, which was a very old user interface, and it didn't let us build the beautiful experiences we wanted with Phone 7," Torr said.

Phone 7 development was done on the company's Silverlight platform. However, apps for both systems will be sold side by side on the company's app store. Torr declined to give an exact figure on how many apps for the Phone 7 would be available once the system is launched.

Telstra is already lending its support to Phone 7. The telecommunications company has developed a prototype app that displays available services to users on its Next G network.

"It's good for us, our customers are saying they want simplicity, they want things easy. Microsoft has delivered a good outcome and we are excited to be part of the launch," a Telstra official said.

The use of "live tiles" are central to the system's home screen interface. On the home screen, Tiles can be pinned and unpinned and there can also be multiple screens with a variety of tiles.

Torr says that Microsoft is banking on Xbox-related gaming, a choice of handsets and compatibility with the popular Office suite to entice users to switch. "No one beats our Office experience -- editing Word, Powerpoint and Excel and Sharepoint and Outlook integration," Torr said.

"Whether you are a business user and want Office integration or you want a great picture experience or you want the games apps, there are a lot of reasons to say that, while I may have invested money in this other phone, there a compelling reasons to switch to this one."

International Business Times, The Global Business News Leader

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